Historic civic building prepares for restoration with open house

Historic civic building prepares for restoration with open house

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - A historic building in North Mankato had many identities throughout the city’s history.

The building dates back to the 1920s.

It once housed the city offices, police department, fire station, and library in North Mankato.

Nate LeBoutillier, a musician, figured it out after walking past the building for 15 years.

"I live a stone’s throw from the building. I’ve walked by this building for 15 plus years since I’ve lived in lower North Mankato and not known that this amazing auditorium was up here and the offices below. I’m always intrigued by public space and how it can be best utilized,” LeBoutillier said.

Inside is an auditorium that holds convincing integrity since it was built in 1926.

The building is now called the Gerlach Cultural Center, named after the architect who designed it, Henry Gerlach.

And its distinguishable charm is ready to be filled with warmth and resonances from the surrounding community.

A couple of years ago when the building took new ownership, LeBoutillier got involved in hopes to create and execute a vision.

With the beginning steps to restoration underway, the building will host an open house on Tuesday to showcase the community space and let the visionaries fly.

"Right now I’ve abstained just for a moment from going into the visionary phase, because I think it’s important to let people look at it and dream a little bit and imagine the space,” LeBoutillier said.

The open house will coincide with the 120 year celebration of North Mankato and allow for community members to be made aware of the revitalization and chime in on ideas for future plans of the center.

LeBoutillier's love for the town is inspiring, he arrived in pursuit for his education about 18 years ago and never left.

“I have a theory that you bloom where you’re planted and I’m not trying to be anywhere else or anything other than where I’m at – where I live,” LeBoutillier said.

And like LeBoutillier has, during the open house individuals will also have the opportunity to tell old stories and experiences in the building to add to the growing history – while enjoying live music.

Share your story and become a part of the vision to make the building home to yet another generation.

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